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Why are there only (realistically) six gauges?

Discussion in 'Tactical Shotguns' started by pugman, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. pugman


    May 16, 2003
    I know there are some oddball ones out there like 11, 14 and 18 but for the most part you only really find 10, 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410 (which of course is a caliber).

    When you look at pistol or rifle calibers there are 10+ times as many; then you have the fact 50% of the shotgun market (per Wikipedia) is just the 12 gauge.

    I understand the cost of introducing a new gauge/caliber but Glock did it with the .45 Gap in 2003 (granted with mixed results), Sig Sauer did it with the .357 SIG in 1994, S&W did it with the .40 in 1990 and .500 S&W in 2003.

    Is there anyone anywhere seriously trying to bring out a different beast?

    I know someone will say-what does a say proposed 23 gauge offer a 12 or 20 doesn't today? See my previous comment about pistol calibers...hasn't stopped manufacturers yet
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
  2. I'm not an expert, buy gauge is only a measurement of bore diameter. There are also different length shells.

  3. method


    Mar 27, 2002
    Cleveland, OH
    There's just no need for anything else I suppose. Go down the line, and there's just no gaps between the gauges that need to be filled. You have small bore in .410 and 28, mid bore in 20 and 16, and big bore in 12 and 10.
  4. aippi


    Jun 12, 2009
    In the old days every gun make had their own gauge. They made the barrel and formed a round ball the size of the bore. However many of those balls equaled a pound became the gage. So 12 round balls the size that would fit in the bore equaled a pound and thus a 12ga. These were black powder shotguns so you got a mold with each weapon designed for that weapon. Over the years cetain Manufactures became the most popular so thier gauges became popular and the others slipped in oblivion. You are asking manufacturers to make something not needed, not wanted and will not sell.

    As for the pistol and rifle guys, well they buy most anything thing so yes, some of that mess sold. But it did not replace anything nor make a dent in the Market. We still have .38, 9mm and .45ACP ruling the hand gun world. And the 12, 20 and .410 will rule the shotgun world as that is what the buyers decided.
  5. Big Bird

    Big Bird NRA Life Member

    Aug 7, 2003
    Louisville KY
    Basically its just the way things settled out. A shotgun shell is a very versatile and flexible component. You can vary the shot charge a great deal by using bigger or smaller wads. That being the case you don't really gain anything by coming out with something like say a 14 gauge...because you can easily load a 12 or 16 gauge to the same specs. So there's no advantage to coming out with something like that. Hell you can load a 16 gauge the same specs as everything but the heaviest loads in a 2 3/4" 12 gauge...
  6. MrMurphy

    MrMurphy ********* Moderator Moderator Millennium Member Lifetime Member

    Jan 16, 2001
    Buried in the X-files

    The only major change in shotgun ammo would be something caseless, or say a semirimmed shell better suited for magazine loading (box magazines). Size-wise, the current calibers cover the spectrum.
  7. CAcop


    Jul 21, 2002
    There were more guages in the past because there really wasn't much more to the shells than shot, powder, and felt wads. From what I understand the last hundred years or so the ammo makers have been tweeking the loads to the point where the width each gauge can cover is wide. I've heard some say that 12 and 20 gauge can cover what used to be covered by 10 to almost 28 gauge.
  8. Big Bird

    Big Bird NRA Life Member

    Aug 7, 2003
    Louisville KY
    Well. not really. There was a lot of variation because prior to about the 1870's there were no shells. It was all loaded thru the muzzle. Most old fowling guns did double duty as shotguns and could be loaded with a single patched projectile OR shot. Like a modern smoothbore shotguns a smoothbore fowling piece could usually shoot a single ball accurately out to about 70 yards. Contrary to frontier myth--the most common gun among most people was not a rifle but a smoothbore fowler which also served as a milita gun. Back then there was a lot of bore variation because NOTHING was standardized with the possible exception of military guns.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
  9. Glock411


    Mar 22, 2007
    The way a gauge size was done, Is done with a pound of lead and divide it into equal parts, example a 12Ga,,,,1 pound of lead divided into 12 equal parts and then make it into a ball, that ball size is the bore size of a 12 gauge,
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
  10. pugman


    May 16, 2003
    I get that.

    But look at the shotgun market-50% or more is 12 gauge.

    Then you look at rifles? .243, .270, .308, 30-06, 30-30, 7mm Mag, 6mm, .25-06...etc, etc.

    It just strikes me as odd in a capitalistic society...pretty much everyone said..."yep, the 12 gauge is the one we are going with"
  11. WoodenPlank

    WoodenPlank Who?

    May 15, 2010
    NW Florida
    Probably because it is so easy to have different variations within one particular gauge of shotgun.
  12. Spiffums

    Spiffums I.C.P.

    Sep 30, 2006
    12 and 410 cover all the bases..........20 is for the girls and kids who can't handle a 12.
  13. Big Bird

    Big Bird NRA Life Member

    Aug 7, 2003
    Louisville KY
    Its really not hard to understand. Shot comes in only so many sizes. Shotshells only hold so much volume of shot. When you pattern a shotgun at most distances and with various chokes its not too hard to figure out the optimum density required to take down game at various ranges. But if you look at rifle cartridges some are made to shoot woodchucks at 400 yards. Some are made to shoot deer inside 150. There's also so much marketing hype around various rifle cartridges. Look at a 7mm Rem Mag, a 30-06, a .270 Winchester and explain to me the real practical advantage one of those has over the real world practical utility? Zip, zero nada. But I promise there are whole armies of people who will swear by one of the above and deride the other two as worthless...

    Anyhow, shotguns have limited pressure ranges they operate in and rifles have much more latitude in this regard. So the only real thing you can do with a shotgun is vary the shot charge and choke. And as I said you can dramatically change the loading on a 12 gauge to act like a 10 gauge or a 20 gauge.